Canadian helicopter ski legend Mike Wiegele has died at the age of 82.
Wiegele founded Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing in the early 1970s, and soon established at base at Blue River, B.C., located about halfway between Kamloops and Jasper National Park.
His company announced his death Thursday although he passed away last week.
In 1978, the entrepreneur staged Canada’s first ever Powder 8 World Championships as a way of promoting powder skiing and showcasing his helicopter ski business.
Born in August 1938 in rural Austria, Wiegele came to Canada in 1959 to pursue his career as a skiing instructor. He taught in Quebec, California and Alberta before building his heli-skiing enterprise in 1969 with his wife Bonnie Shubin.
“Mike’s close and enduring relationships stretched to a broad community of colleagues, guests and friends from all walks of life, whose kinships were regularly forged on skis, on bikes, and on hikes up mountain trails,” his company wrote in a statement on Thursday.
Former Powder 8 Canadian champion and ski guide Bob Sayer says he remembers Wiegele as his good friend and “second father.”
“I had a great father, but I lost him years ago, and Mike took me into the ski business and drove me like a hard-driving father would, who treated me more than fairly and demanded a lot and wanted to see me grow,” Sayer told Shelley Joyce, the host of CBC’s Daybreak Kamloops.
Sayer says Wiegele started to suffer from dementia after turning 82 and had been in the hospital since September. Up until then he was still working hard and playing hard.
“Mike loved to get out there and ski, and when he was skiing, he was completely relaxed and at ease in the mountains,” he said. “Then he came back in and [went] back to the office and worked hard.”
Wiegele’s contributions to Canadian skiing hit the big screen at the Whistler International Film Fest in December 2019 with the documentary premiere of Call Me Crazy: The Legend of Mike Wiegele.
July 17, 20219
Scott Simon speaks to Bruce Iglauer about the legendary blues label Alligator Records, which began 50 years ago.
JULY 15, 2021
At the Kuss family home in Durango, Colorado, Dolph and Sabina Kuss screamed into the television this past Sunday, watching their son, Sepp, navigate the twists and turns on his bicycle as he descended the Col de Beixalis during stage 15 of the Tour de France, thousands of miles away in Andorra.
Behind Kuss, Alejandro Valverde gave chase, hoping to challenge the American for the stage win.
“Come on Seppy, take a risk,” shouted Dolph, a two-time Olympic cross-country skiing coach for Team USA in 1964 and 1972. “I was encouraging him on that downhill so he wouldn’t have to battle Valverde out for the last few seconds going into the finish. Sepp, of course, I know he’s not void of downhill skills. When they would show the splits – 18, 20, down to 15, back to 16 – oh man, every one of those second losses felt like they sucked the wind out of you, and every gain brought you to life.”
Sabina, herself a cyclist who has conquered the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic from Durango to Silverton on numerous occasions, at times with her son in tow during his early days on a bike, said she could watch him without fear as he reached speeds as high as 50 mph on the downhill for the first time in her life.
“Thank goodness there was no rain,” Sabina Kuss told VeloNews. “We know Sepp is a good descender, so this was the first time I could relax, and I took every curve with him.”
As Dolph and Sabina proudly looked on, Sepp held off Valverde, and coasted across the line to take the biggest victory of his professional cycling career. In doing so, he became the first American in a decade to win a stage of the Tour de France.
Back in Durango, Colorado, where Sepp grew up, the victory sent ripples through the community. Those who knew him best had just watched him do what he had done so. many times on a mountain bike throughout his childhood. And in the days after the victory, these friends explained how Kuss’s win reverberated throughout the mountain town in Southwestern Colorado, that has produced so many great cyclists before.
“Back in 2017 when he was racing domestically for Rally Cycling, Sepp, Howard Grotts and I rode the South Boundary Trail from Angel Fire to Taos in New Mexico,” said pro mountain bike and gravel racer Payson McElveen of Durango.
“It was a super long descent and pretty technical in the end. I don’t think Sepp had ridden his mountain bike in like nine months or something crazy because he had been focused on the road. But he just hops on his mountain bike, and he was ripping, and he was even wearing road pedals and road shoes. Howie and I had just gotten off a full mountain bike season, and Sepp had absolutely not lost a beat.
“So when he dropped into that descent on the Tour, I had a pretty good feeling he was just going to absolutely rip it. It was easy to believe in his massive bank of skills at this point,” McElveen added.
Dreams of mountain bike success fill many Durango children at a young age. From his early days working with coach Chad Cheeney at Durango Devo, Kuss was known for his small frame, pointy elbows, strong climbing ability, and the tail whips he would try to throw off even the smallest features on any trail.
“Like everyone, he was into mountain bikes. But he would always ride the road, too,” Cheeney said. “Sepp always had these really cool and funny custom road bikes, beaters he had boughten off eBay or found in the Durango Cyclery recycling section. He’d find these super-light frames and put funky parts on them. We’d go on rides, and his bike would be creaking and rattling loose. He was this cobbler of bikes.”
During his senior year of high school, Kuss made the USA Cycling roster for the UCI mountain world championships, and he was a member of the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory Devo Sweet Elite team put together in Durango. It was made up of under-23 stars such as Kaylee Blevins, Lauren Catlin, Tad Elliott, Grotts, McElveen, and Sarah Sturm along with high school shredders in Kuss and Stephan Davoust, among others.
While none of those riders ever would have gone on to predict the success Kuss would have in road cycling, he left a few clues behind along the way.
“We were at a race in Colorado Springs for Sweet Elite, and Sepp couldn’t make it because he was in Europe for a world cup,” Cheeney said. “We all watched the live timing for it. He started like 130th, and it was a super climbing race. He moved all the way up to like 50th or something. All of us had the tingles, and we looked at each other like, ‘Holy cow, Sepp can really, like really, climb. Before, we all knew he was fast, but that was this world-class moment. Before, you just thought of Sepp as some chill and mellow guy. You never thought of him as a world killer.”
A great album and unbelievable performance at Telluride Blue Grass Fest
by Glenn Alexander
There Records 008
Peter Rowan could just as easily been a preacher. He’s got the whole
fire and brimstone attitude on stage, he’s got heaps of tales of
triumph, morality, and revelations, he has visions (of Elvis), and
he’s met the Creator (Bill Monroe, folks). He preaches from his pulpit
ceaselessly, and without fail manages to keep the faith, whether or
not his sermons are speaking to the masses. With this release of a
show from over 10 years ago, wherein six fellow devotees merge behind a
righteous cause (music), Peter Rowan and gang release the devil
and make a deal with righteousness.
With Telluride elder statesman Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas (who has to be
on the all-time list of performers most responsible for excessive
drooling and oggling), and the eminent upright bassist Victor Krauss
backing him up (with Larry Atamanuik and Kester Smith on skins), there
is certainly no shortage of talent here. Let’s just get this out in
the open. Hell or high water, these boys burn the shit out of these
tunes. Rowan hasn’t released anything this combustible since,
wellever. Yes, I am a fan of his music. I appreciate his history with
Bill Monroe, his Old and In The Way, his Bluegrass Boy, the
lyrical and melodic brilliance of Dust Bowl Children, and his
work with the boys of Two High String Band down in Texas and beyond.
I can even appreciate him at least taking a stab at mixing reggae and
country, which not even fellow weed-wielder Willie Nelson seems to be
able to do with any real success. Maybe someday the two idioms will
have a serendipitous moment in the studio, but I’m afraid we’re still
waiting. Live, on the other hand, Rowan has actually made his
Reggaebilly sound relevant, if not damn near revelatory at times.
Sometimes, when the meeting of minds coalesce into one thing on stage,
boundaries and labels seem to disappear into the air, if the air is
magic on that particular night or day. When he sticks with what he
does best, he’s a force of nature a dazzling, idiosyncratic shaman
of the lonesome sound. He can be an astute purist or a side-stepper
branching into new waters with varying effectiveness. Within his own
musical cosmos, he is the jack of all trades, the master of destiny.
At times, it takes good company to really shine. In Telluride,
Colorado in 1994 at a music festival in the mountains Peter Rowan and
his compadres proved not only masters of their world, but of the air
in which their sound traveled on that festival night.
The “Deal With The Devil” that opens up is a Charlie Daniels Band-like
romp that showcases Bush’s fiddle work, Rowan’s tireless and precise
finger picking talent, and those good ol’ rock-solid country drums,
just chugging along. It makes for a great opener, introducing us to the Rowan his fans know him best for:
country-tinged earnestness, wailing vocals, high-lonesome lyrics and
being thoroughly possessed by some unseen force. The Latin-tinged
“Panama Red” is the album’s jamming zenith. Every member shines on
this number, none more than Jerry Douglas, whose solo towards the end
rivals any acoustic solo for shear explosiveness and dexterity this
author has laid ears on in some time. Rowan yodels, hollers, takes an
earnest stab at his old Martin come solo time and Bush proves once
again why he is the mainstay that he is at the festival, dazzling the
crowd with rapid fire attacks and inflammatory inflections. After its
over, in the left speaker you hear Bush proclaim across the stage,
“That’s the way ya do it!”. Indeed it is.
“Rainmaker” is prefaced by a
rather amusing tale about a vision quest, wherein the author meets
Elvis standing on top of a building in a parking lot declaring that
Rowan is to write a rainmakin’ song, “no neo-shamanistic jingle'”, he
says. Duly noted. What follows is a sure-fire honky tonk take on this
Rowan classic that epitomizes ‘crucial country’. It’s country the way
that it too often is not played these days, with attitude and honesty,
and more importantly — with a seriously driving rhythm section. The
Marley-penned “No Woman No Cry” incites not only the crowd to sing the
chorus, but rouses the band into playing reggaebilly the way it was
supposed to be heard — a merging of styles into a seamless and unique
idiomatic experience. It’s light and airy like the original, with the
added pleasure of bluegrass instruments to add a little flavor.
Douglas crests and climbs with his slide work, gliding and moving the
song along beautifully.
Audibly, it sounds rich and layered. Everything thing is there, in
crisp detail. Good thing for us, because this one is a keeper. If
anyone has ever doubted Rowan’s position among the great performers of
acoustic music, then this release reaffirms once again why he played
with Bill Monroe and Jerry Garcia, and why he continues to perform
around the country. This is the one his fans have been waiting for.
Come and get it.
Climbing with his tongue out, which has become his trademark, Durango’s Sepp Kuss ascends the Col de Beixalis in Andorra on the way to his win on Stage 15 of the 2021 Tour de France. (Courtesy of Team Jumbo-Visma)
Hailed as “The Durango Kid,” Sepp Kuss accomplished the greatest feat by an athlete in the storied history of the Colorado mountain town Sunday.
Kuss, 26, can now call himself a stage winner of the Tour de France. He is only the 11th rider from the United States to win a stage of the event in its 108-year history, and he is the first American since Tyler Farrar in 2011 to celebrate victory at the world’s most famous race.
“I am in total disbelief,” Kuss said. “I never would have imagined winning a stage in the Tour, especially this year because I never felt super good in the stages leading up to this. To do it shows that you always need to believe in yourself and keep trying. If you work hard and enjoy what you’re doing, something good always comes from it. That’s what I was thinking about after the race, was the hard work and my love for doing it.”
Following a route that traveled directly past his new residence in Andorra, Kuss would mount a solo attack three miles before the summit on the last of four categorized climbs Sunday. Chased only by Spain’s Alejandro Valverde, a four-time Tour de France stage winner, Kuss built a 25-second advantage going over the top of Col de Beixalis with a steep gradient of 8.5%.
Sepp Kuss of Durango celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the 15th stage of the Tour de France cycling race Sunday after riding 118.9 miles with start in Ceret, France, and finish in Andorra-la-Vella, Andorra. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)Christophe Ena
“I don’t ride to Col de Beixalis much in training because it’s so hard, but I knew if I had a good gap, I’d stay away till the finish,” Kuss said. “I felt confident in my descending. But there was a lot of headwind on the flatter part to the finish, so I was still a bit nervous with the gap. I was suffering like crazy the last two kilometers to keep driving away.”
With a ripping descent into Andorra la Vella, the capital city of the country nestled between France and Spain in the Pyrenees mountains, Kuss had to fight with everything he had to hold off the charging Valverde, the 2018 world champion long heralded as one of the most explosive finishers in the peloton.
Kuss would keep Valverde at bay, as he finished the 118.9-mile Stage 15 in 5 hours, 12 minutes, 6 seconds. Valverde, who was 23 seconds behind Kuss, found the 2013 graduate of Durango High School at the finish area, and the two exchanged congratulations in Kuss’ newly learned tongue of Spanish.
Spain’s Alejandro Valverde, left, congratulates stage winner Sepp Kuss of Durango after the fifteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race Sunday in Andorra-la-Vella, Andorra. Kuss held off Valverde for his first career Tour de France stage win. Valverde, the 2018 world champion, has won four Tour stages in his storied career. (Thomas Samson/Pool Photo via AP)Thomas Samson
“At the finish, he just said, ‘Job well done.’ We were both saying how hard it was and how hard we were going over the climb and also in the headwind all the way to the finish,” Kuss said. “For me, it’s nice when a rider like Valverde, who has won so many races and been in cycling for so long tells you ‘good job’ at the end of a race.”
Going into this year’s Tour de France, Kuss quickly noticed the Stage 15 route that would ride from the French communue of Céret and into Andorra, where he and his girlfriend, Noemi Ferré, are in the process of building a home.
“Today, I knew it was finishing where I live, so I was motivated for the stage. My girlfriend and her family stood on the final climb to cheer me on, so I am really happy that I won here,” Kuss said. “I also didn’t want to overthink it or target it too much coming into today. If it doesn’t go well, then you’re more disappointed. I needed to take every day as it came, and today I focused on doing the race one step at a time, getting through each moment and do the best I could in the end.”
.It was another magnificent solo victory on the Tour today as Sepp Kuss triumphed in Andorra la Vella!
What the! .. ! =! ~`## !! That looks like Dr. Ruth (Higdon) and it seems she’s sailing somewhere on a boat …. and not in Grand Junction going into surgery to save a life .. Ya, she’s beginning a nearly three week adventure sailing from California to Hawaii. Go Ruthie! Enjoy your life!